What is Curricular Practical Training (CPT)?
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) offers on-the-job experience for F-1 students that is curricular in nature—that is, tied to a student’s program of study. This difference makes CPT a unique pillar of the F-1 student visa program. It blends strictly academic, or classroom-based, learning with the practical aspect of obtaining a college degree in the United States: gaining full-time employment at a U.S.-based organization afterward.
CPT Eligibility Criteria
You must complete one academic year of full-time enrollment of two consecutive long sessions (i.e., fall-spring or spring-fall) without a break in studies, not counting the summer.
- Graduate students enrolled in programs that require immediate participation in an internship
- Less common exceptions are listed on our CPT page here.
Use of CPT’s Impact on Post-Completion OPT
If you accumulate more than 12 months of full-time (over 20 hours per week) CPT, you automatically lose your initial 12-month post-completion OPT benefit at the completed degree level.
STEM degree graduates also lose their 24-month STEM OPT Extension benefit at that degree level.
If you obtain a higher-level degree, you once again become eligible for post-completion OPT (and STEM OPT Extension, if applicable.)
Applying for CPT
Step 1: Speak with your advisor
To simplify the process, first discuss with your academic advisor how the desired off-campus employment opportunity fits into your program of study. This will help you determine the course or sequence of courses in which you need to enroll, and their timing.
Step 2: Enroll in course/s for the entire requested CPT period
The table below shows the range of CPT start and end dates for upcoming semesters.
If a proposed CPT’s start or end date will overlap with dates permitted for another semester, we will ask you to enroll in a separate internship course to cover the out-of-range start or end date.
To learn how we determine the earliest start and end dates for CPT each semester, review “Frequently Asked Questions: What are the earliest and latest start dates I can use for CPT authorization?” on our CPT page.
Step 3: Initiate a CPT request
Once you have the department’s approval to move forward with a planned CPT, initiate a CPT Request in myIO, and provide all requested information including a valid employment offer letter on company letterhead, or a complete and signed Employment Verification form.
Make sure your letter contains all of the required information:
- The hiring employer or company’s name
- A specific start date and end date. ‘TBD’ or any such variants are unacceptable.
- A job title
- A brief job description
- A physical work site address where you will conduct your job. If the work is to be performed remotely, the company site offering you employment should provide their location’s physical address
- Number of hours per week
- Company representative’s signature
Step 4: Obtain an I-20 with CPT authorization before beginning employment
Do not begin work until you have received an email containing an updated I-20 form that includes your CPT employer’s information and your authorized start and end dates.
Once you have received your I-20, you may start only on or after the authorized start date.
Still have questions about CPT?
Attend our Ask an Advisor: Applying for CPT session on Thursday, March 31. Our advisors will be there to answer all of your basic CPT questions.